Quite often, we hear of people attempting to scoop petrol from road tanks following a spillage accident. This usually results in the careless introduction of a source of ignition leading to an explosion.

This happened on Monday in Colombia as some persons tried scooping from an overturned road tank (video below).


One of the main considerations for the safe road transport of dangerous goods is ensuring that the vehicle crew have a good understanding of the actions to take in such emergency.

Responsibility lies with the vehicle crew and other first responders to ensure that the right action is taken and time is of course of essence.

The emergency response guide book published by the PHMSA gives recommended emergency action to be taken in a situation like this as follows:

Guide Number: 128 Flammable Liquids (water immiscible)

For public safety;

  • Keep unauthorised personnel away
  • If tank, rail car or tank truck is involved in a fire, isolate for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions. Also, consider initial evacuation for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions

In the event of a spill or leak;

  • Eliminate all ignition sources (no smoking, flares, sparks or flames in immediate area)
  • All equipment used when handling the product must be grounded
  • Do not touch or walk through spilled material
  • Top leak if you can do it without risk
  • Prevent entry into waterways, sewers, basements or confined areas

What goes on in the mind of people when they attempt to scoop fuel from such places?

What drives them? Poverty, ignorance?

A safe society is possible and we should not take the role of public education lightly.

It is unimaginable that people would consider approaching such spillage when they should be fleeing in the opposite direction.
Written by: Taiwo Folorunsho, Operations Manager at Hybrid-DGM Ghana Limited

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